By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor
Despite leading by as many as 16 points toward the end of the first half, No. 11 Baylor women’s basketball found itself in a close game with Texas Tech University late in the match. However, clutch shots down the stretch from sophomore guard Sarah Andrews allowed the Bears to escape Lubbock with an 88-80 victory Wednesday night.
“She [Andrews] pretty much carried us in the big moments,” head coach Nicki Collen said. “The types of finishes she had at the rim were really impressive.”
Andrews finished with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, 15 points coming in the second half. Senior forward NaLyssa Smith struggled shooting the ball going 10-for-21, but still finished with 23 points and nine rebounds. Graduate guard Jordan Lewis and senior forward Caitlin Bickle also reached double figures, as Lewis dropped 16 points and Bickle 12 to go along with seven boards.
Baylor (14-4, 4-2 Big 12) started out strong, outscoring the Lady Raiders (9-10, 2-6 Big 12) 29-14 in the first. Smith scored 10 points in the quarter as the Bears shot 73.3% from the floor.
While the Bears continued to get what they wanted on the offensive end in the second quarter, they began to let up on defense, allowing Tech to score 24 points to make it a 51-38 Baylor lead at the half.
Baylor’s 51 points in the first half were just two points shy of the program record for points in the first half of a Big 12 game. The Bears also shot 66.7% from the field, which was ninth-best in program history. Collen said it was their aggressiveness that allowed them to get out to such a hot start.
“I just thought we were aggressive,” Collen said. “We were playing downhill. We were attacking the basket. We were finishing at the rim. We got a few offensive rebounds. We were balanced … we got scoring from anywhere and everywhere in the first half. We just forgot to keep playing defense in the second quarter.”
Momentum shifted in favor of Tech in the second half, as the team managed to catch fire from deep and jump out on a 12-0 run to make it a one-point game. From that point on, the Bears and Lady Raiders continued to trade baskets, but Baylor finished the period on top thanks to a step-back three at the buzzer from Andrews to make it 71-66.
Tech was able to tie the game late in the fourth quarter at 79 apiece, but Andrews once again came up big with another shot from beyond the arc, helping the Bears hold onto the lead the rest of the way and fend off the upset and winning 88-80.
“It’s always hard to win on the road because they have the home crowd advantage,” Andrews said. “So to get a win on the road means a lot because at any given night, anybody can be beat in the Big 12. It’s just a special year this year.”
Even though they were able to seal the deal, Collen said she needs to see things more defensively moving forward.
“As dialed in as we were against Iowa State on Sunday, we weren’t the slightest bit dialed in defensively tonight, and that’s on me,” Collen said. “I’ve got to have them better prepared … so just disappointed with our defensive effort.”
The Bears will look to bring more defensive intensity when they go back on the road to face West Virginia University (10-7, 3-4 Big 12) at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Morgantown, W. Va.